Elston Ridgle & the New L.A. Stadium
As crews work around the clock to finish one of the world’s largest construction projects in Los Angeles, one former NFL great is putting up new stats on the ground where one of L.A.’s new football teams will hold scrimmage.
Construction of the new Los Angeles NFL stadium in Inglewood, estimated to cost around $3 billion, is well under way, and former Seahawks defensive end Elston Ridgle is helping things run smoothly and safely.
Ridgle, who played for the Seahawks in 1989 and ended his NFL career with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993, is in charge of the safety of the 1,100 workers turning a giant, 320-acre hole in the ground into a stadium and entertainment complex that is sure to transform L.A.
Ridgle recently achieved a new stat in his role as safety manager: over 2 million safe hours of work. He attributes his work ethic and success to his days in the NFL.
“Have a kinship and caring for each other, and then have that reflect into the hours and the safe work that we’re producing on this field,” Ridgle said.
The native Angeleno also credits his father for his success. The elder Ridgle ran one of the first black-owned businesses in the San Fernando Valley.
“The way he quickly built rapport with people was really something that you can only learn by seeing it,” Ridgle remembers.
He likens running this team to being a fullback in the NFL.
“I clear the hall,” Ridgle says. “I’m the guy that blocks, makes sure everything — all the interference — is out of the way, and lead all the rest of my guys through the hole cleanly to get to the goal, which is that touchdown or finishing this stadium on time.”
Just as he successfully transitioned into a post-NFL career in the construction business, Ridgle now helps fellow former professional football players find alternative forms of employment through a mentorship program.
Former Raiders teammate Ron Foster is the first to be part of the program and is now working alongside Ridgle to make the new stadium a reality.
“It takes a while to find a way to tailor yourself into a job that you really love like you loved playing,” Foster said.
The stadium is expected to be completed by 2020.